J. Shane Kornberg and Andy Lopez gathered the most votes in a four-person race for two spots on the Cohutta Town Council on Tuesday.
Kornberg, an incumbent, received 88 votes (30%) to 85 votes (29%) for Lopez, a challenger, while Sheila Rose, an incumbent, garnered 63 votes (22%), and Nick Conner, another challenger, finished with 55 votes (19%).
"I'm excited and grateful to all my supporters," Kornberg said. "I try to work hard and serve the community in any way I can, and I hope people see that."
Kornberg came to Cohutta from his native Gainesville in 2004 to become facilities manager of the Cohutta Fisheries Center, which is owned by the University of Georgia, and he has a bachelor of science degree in forest resources — fisheries and aquaculture from UGA. He was appointed to the council in 2014 to fill the term of Ron Shinnick, who had been elected mayor, and Kornberg was elected, running unopposed, to a full four-year term in 2015.
In towns roughly the size of Cohutta, growth is "always an issue, and everyone has an opinion on how that should look," he said. "Adding amenities" is an element of growth, and the city has already extended a sewer line to its downtown business district to encourage development in that area.
Lopez has filled a plethora of roles in the town's government, including 14 years as Cohutta's police chief, but he's yet to be a member of the Town Council. Lopez is originally from Los Angeles, but he's lived in Cohutta for more than two decades.
He's stated previously that, if elected, he'd like to encourage more people to request to be annexed into the city, extend sewer service out to Cleveland Highway, and build on the city's already-popular series of festivals.
Rose is a lifelong Cohutta resident and the fifth generation of her family to live in the community. She was appointed to the council in 2004 to fill the term of of Leo Whaley, who had been elected to the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, and she was elected to a full four-year term in 2007, so this would have been her fourth full term.
Though the result is "disappointing, I want to thank all the voters for their support over the past 15 years," Rose said. "It was a pleasure serving the constituents of Cohutta."
"I'm sure the council will carry on," she added. "I wish Cohutta and all the citizens the best."
Conner, a graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School who later earned a two-year marketing degree from Dalton State College, was grateful for the support he did have, and he "appreciated a clean race," he said. "I have nothing negative to say about any of (his three opponents) personally."
While he's "looking forward to what the new council does," he's also skeptical, he said. "I'm concerned about the future, that we're not changing anything."
"Ethics, values, backbone and structure have been on the weak side of things" on the Town Council, he said. "I feel like volunteers in the community do more than the council has ever done."
That includes he and his wife, Wendy, and their annual Christmas effort to help children in need with presents for the holiday, a tradition he planned to expand if elected to the council, he said. "I'm very sad that probably won't get done."